Commitment to family and community is the cornerstone of Ann Feeney’s life. Recognized as a tireless leader in the civic affairs of Chelsea, Michigan, and for having boundless compassion for the members of her community, she was honored as Chelsea’s first Citizen of the Year in 1994.
“Ann has always gone the extra mile in what she has done for the community,” said H. L. (Jack) Myers, village manager. “Our community has been enriched by the presence of Ann Feeney as an actively involved citizen and role model for all our community members.”
“Being chosen to be a part of the Chelsea Charter Commission this year was a privilege and an honor,” said Feeney. “But I would be stretching it if I said that anything was more important than sustaining a good marriage for 45 years and raising a family to be well-adjusted adults. The fact that I had the freedom to pursue goals outside of the family was an added bonus.”
Feeney and her husband moved with their six children from Detroit to Chelsea 31 years ago, and that charming village hasn’t been the same since. In fact, the village is about to become a city, thanks in large part to Feeney’s efforts. Many people were involved in the successful petition drive that brought this about, but Feeney is one of only three charter members of the Chelsea City Ad Hoc Study Committee, formed in 1992, who stayed on as it became a City Committee and finally the Chelsea City Charter Commission. She is now an elected member and secretary of this commission. City status will confer a number of political and economic benefits to the community.
In 1976 Feeney was elected to her first four-year term on the Chelsea Board of Education, which oversees the 2000 student, Class A school district. She served until 1991 as board member, secretary and president with a one-year hiatus.
As executive director of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce for 10 years, Feeney developed business materials, produced a newsletter and oversaw several innovative programs. She also established the Leadership Chelsea Program to prepare local business people for leadership roles in civic and community-based organizations, and worked with the Chelsea Rotary Club to begin the Christmas Festival of Lights.
Her dedication to her community is also hands-on. Feeney began volunteering at the Chelsea Retirement Community in 1986. She became known as the “Tuesday donut lady” after a weekly treat for one elderly woman grew to two, then three, and eventually three dozen women. She also worked with the Chelsea Home Meal Service for 30 years, as treasurer and volunteer driver delivering meals.
Until recently Feeney chaired the Chelsea Community Foundation. Following her philosophy of not staying in any position too long, she recently turned the chair position over to the vice president, and will now assume that role. She is also director of the Chelsea Area Transportation System, which provides rides for seniors, special education students and the disabled.
“Any one of Ann’s achievements deserves recognition,” said her sister, Mary Moore Hubbell ’56. “Taken together, they reflect a woman of remarkable energy, commitment, drive and intelligence who is an effective advocate.”
Feeney attributes her competence to a somewhat surprising philosophy. “It may sound simple, but the one thing that has brought me the most benefit is learning to keep my counsel. In other words, keeping my mouth shut ...(but not always, of course)... in a meeting, in marriage, parenting, with friends. It is amazing what you learn,” she said.
“I am passionate about participatory democracy and the freedom it allows us in America,” says Feeney. “It allows us to take responsibility for the choices we make, which is a great power over our lives.”